Abby’s audition toward the end of the episode hilariously subverts the trope of the fresh-faced girl from Iowa (think Karen from Smash) singing the original song she slaved over: Instead we have Abby, technically an illegal immigrant, playing a soulful cover of ”Taking Care of Business” on the piano… and right as she’s wowed them and they’re talking about sides, she violently throws up all over herself.
Director: “There’s an old saying in show business: When there’s vomit on the piano, it’s time to stop the audition.”
Concerning the rest of the cast: There’s definitely a sense of the haves versus the have-nots in Hollywood, like the sweet, chubby landlord Eddie who’s obviously crushing on Alicia and quotes Shakespeare at her. Unlike Degrassi‘s casting — where the moment we hear there’s a character who’s overweight/queer/poor/etc., we assume it’s going to be a Very Special Plotline — Eddie’s inclusion feels less like the writers are trying to create a shocking character and more that they’re simply populating their world with the beautiful and talented and the average folks who are just as worthy of living in L.A.
I’m also excited that they cast Firefly‘s Jewel Staite on the show. Because not only is she a talented actress who deserves to be seen on TV, but even though she’s in her thirties compared to these twentysomethings, her character Raquel is not cast as the den mother to these kids. She still looks young — and is Connor’s booty call when needed — but is just old enough that she may fall into obscurity. After all, she doesn’t have a job and she’s known only for her cancelled teen show:
Abby: “I was addicted to Teenage Wasteland. I grew up idolizing you.”
Raquel: “We had a bad time slot.”
Raquel’s plotline especially (but really all of theirs) is about faking it. Raquel pretends to be too busy to read some kids’ script, but when it turns out that it’s actually a great screenplay, she uses all of her connections to get it made. With her in the leading role, of course. As exciting as the developments in these people’s lives seem, however, the show makes sure to emphasize that a lot of their existence in L.A. is “hurry up and wait.” There’s an especially powerful moment about halfway through the episode where Alicia and Nick are commiserating on not making their big break yet:
Alicia: ”I was hoping I’d hear from now.”
Nick: ”We all should’ve heard by now.”
In Nick’s plotline, we got a cringeworthy scene where comedian Paul F. Tompkins and 24 actress Mary Lynn Rajskub play themselves and bust poor Nick’s balls after a particularly bad set at the club. You assume on these shows that the people who’ve made it in Hollywood will mentor the up-and-comers, but that scene shows that it’s still a cutthroat business that will not tolerate amateurs. Or as Abby tells Alicia,
Abby: “Even if I end up in the right room with the right people in the right outfit, what then? I still have to be the smartest, prettiest, funniest girl in the room.”
But despite that fear and hopelessness, Abby decides to stay and keep trying. Alicia promises her she’ll find her an under-the-table job where she can make rent money fast.
Aaand of course it’s as exotic dancers. God bless you, Linda Schuyler and Stephen Stohn.
Photos: The CW